Men’s Health Month

This week we celebrate Men’s Health Week designated by Congress to coincide with Father’s Day. June is also Men’s Health Month in the United States. I understand there is also an “International Men’s Health Week” that is marked this week

It seems to me that these observances – like Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), American Heart Month (February) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Awareness Week (last week in November to coincide with Thanksgiving) to name just three of the many – have a well-intentioned and meaning and purpose in our society: To bring attention to the need to pay attention to our health.

And while we should routinely be thinking about our health and what we can do to better it, we all know that that is not always the case. We forget. We get busy. We get complacent. We let far too much time go by before getting a needed screening or exam. These observances serve as a useful reminder.

The need for men (or the people who love them) to pay attention to their health are indisputable:

  • The Centers for Disease Control found that women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Now with the Affordable Care Act requiring health plan coverage for annual exams, there really is no excuse.
  • Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death, the CDC also found. In fact, by the age of 100, women outnumber men eight to one.
  • Prostate cancer will be found in nearly a quarter of a million men each year and more than 27,000 fathers, husbands, sons and brothers will die from the disease.

So what can be done?

If you have not already had your annual physical or have it scheduled, call your primary care physician and get one scheduled. Do it this week or this month.

Listen to what your body is telling you. Someone once said, “Men notice when their car doesn’t perform properly, but they don’t always listen when their body tells them it is time to see a doctor.”

Use Father’s day as a time to ask your dad or your son or your husband, “How are you feeling? When is the last time you had a physical?”

We shouldn’t need a day or a week or a month to remember our health, but sometimes a reminder is helpful!